Project Runway 4

Alright, I’m bored.

I’m sick of designers making cocktail dresses out of actual fabric with a reasonable budget and amount of time within which to accomplish things. I want coffee filters and corn husks and candy wrappers. I want to watch a dozen designers make something out of nothing with very little time in which to do it, because when you expect fashion miracles from people, sometimes you get astoundingly great stuff. Remember Blue Cup Dress, or what about Pleated Twizzler Wrapper Dress? A great designers can make a great dress out of anything. A mediocre Project Runway contestant can make something passable out of fabric, if given enough time. Those challenges are what separate the men from the boys on Project Runway.

And apparently, we shall have none of that on Lifetime. What was this week’s challenge? Party dresses! For models! And I guess it was at least partly interesting, because it sharply underlined which designers really aren’t familiar with the fashion industry, with models, with what models actually wear in their down time, or with what looks good on a model. And I guess that all of those things are kind of important if you want to be a designer.

The party-dresses-for-models challenge was actually a bit of a blast from the past – in season 2 (I believe), the models got to tell their designers what they wanted to wear, which is what happened here. And not only did this process indicate which designers weren’t really aware of how “fashion people” dress, but it also did the same for the models. Perhaps I’m being too judge-y, but it seems like the subsets of both groups that didn’t understand this concept were the ones least likely to have a grip on what it takes to make it in the world of high fashion, and are subsequently least likely to succeed.

For those that don’t follow this world as obsessively as I do, models don’t dress like regular humans. Not the really good ones, anyway, and at least part of the trick to this business is fooling people into believing your own hype. Successful models wear Alexander Wang and Band of Outsiders and shop at Opening Ceremony, and the ones that don’t have the cash on hand at least have a good enough eye to pick through vintage and consignment deals and find fabulous things that would look ridiculous on the rest of us (they are models, after all). Take a look at any of the photos from this week’s New York Fashion Week after parties, and you’ll see what I mean.

But, sadly, some of the designers that have spent their lives thus far on the outskirts of the fashion world didn’t quite get that. But some of them did. So who was really good, and who was really bad?

Our top three were Carol Hannah, Althea, and Epperson. And I couldn’t have agreed more – they all made things young and edgy enough to be worn by a successful high fashion model, and I probably would have agreed with any of them taking home the crown this week. Epperson was my favorite, if only because his model gave him a thousand different directions in which to go and he had to coalesce all of that into a wearable, sexy, totally model-y dress. It was the kind of thing that would look ridiculous on a mere mortal, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that models should always wear. It’s how you know they’re really models.

Both Althea and Carol Hannah made things that would be wearable for model or mortal. Carol Hannah’s dress was flowy and purple on top, tailored and dark on the bottom, and absolutely divine. The kick pleat on the back of the skirt provided a little bit of movement, as did the draping at the bust, and I want one immediately. But the winner was Althea, who creates a totally modern, totally not stuffy three-piece suit that was so incredibly on-trend and appropriate for a model that I could barely speak. It was exactly the kind of outfit that you see girls wear at after parties and openings, and the blazer and the proportions of the skirt and tank were spot-on. Any of the top three could have been legitimately given the win, and I have no problem with Althea being chosen.

Qristyl, Johnny and Logan were the bottom three. Qristyl just isn’t a particularly talented high fashion designer (something we already knew), which was why she was there. She made a ruched (the only thing she knows how to do is cut and ruche, apparently) black cocktail dress that was not the most atrocious thing we’ve ever seen from her, but certainly not particularly young or fun or edgy, which is what a model needs to be. It was bulky and looked like something that could easily have been found at a mall store.

Johnny made what was very aptly described as a bridesmaid dress (as did Shirin’s, but at least the color and fabric were better), and it wasn’t even a particularly sleek one. It was bunchy and awkward and had two different waistlines. The fabric looked like it would make noise when the model walked and it added pounds to her frame, which is obviously even more of a sin in model world than it is in everyday life. On top of all that, it didn’t even appear to fit her particularly well, which is also even worse than it would normally be since the garment was supposed to be a bespoke piece made specifically for her use.

And then there was Logan, who was a surprise first-time visitor to the bottom of the barrel. Logically, he shouldn’t have been there – his own personal style indicates that he understands the odd and wonderful pieces of clothing that fashion people embrace (guest judge and stylist Jennifer Rade even complimented him on his own clothes), and his model seems like the kind of woman that has enough personal style and point of view that she’d ask for something interesting (I had to actually watch ‘Models of the Runway’ to find out more about her – it was terrible and more or less an abomination against God). And she did – she gave him 50s, feathers, lace and all kinds of fun stuff. He should have done more with it, and he didn’t.

But Logan lives to fight another day because Qristyl was the one that was ultimately auf’d. Which was the correct decision, since she’s not playing in the same league with the rest of these people, and she hasn’t been since the beginning. Getting her out of the way was a necessary trimming of the fat before we (hopefully) get to more interesting challenges.

As for next week, it looks like we might get an interesting challenge – is that newspaper that I spy on those dress forms next week?

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Linda

    i loved what epperson did with the dress. and i agree with qristyl being auf’d. she was clearly way out of her league. her taste level wasn’t very high.

  • Sue

    I thought the guest judges (designer Marc Bouwer, editor Zoe Glassner from Marie Clare & stylist Jennifer Wade) for this episode were excellent- Michael & Nina better watch out! I agree with Amanda (and fervently hope) that we just might be seeing a newspaper challenge next week.

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